PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis

 
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
PREVENTING
HOMELESSNESS
IN SCOTLAND
Recommendations for legal duties
to prevent homelessness: A report
from the Prevention Review Group

FEBRUARY 2021
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                       3

                                  Contents
“Becoming homeless is one of
                                  Forewords                                                             4
                                  Executive Summary                                                     6
                                  Introduction                                                          9
                                  PART 1 Duties on wider public bodies and landlords                   21

the most damaging situations        Principles: Ask and act duties                                     22

someone can find themselves         Health and social care
                                    Case co-ordination for people with multiple or complex needs
                                                                                                       22
                                                                                                       24
in. There is a moral imperative     Children’s services                                                25

to prevent homelessness,            Assistance for young people                                        25

and it is often much easier         Landlords
                                    Criminal justice
                                                                                                       27
                                                                                                       28
to prevent than to fix.             Domestic abuse                                                     30
                                    Local authority duty to respond to referrals                       31

”
                                    Joining up services through strategic planning                     32
                                  PART 2 Reforming the homelessness system to incentivise prevention   33
                                    Principles for changing the current homelessness framework         34
                                    Proposals in detail                                                34
                                  Conclusion                                                           42
                                  Summary of recommendations                                           44
                                  Appendices                                                           52
                                    1 Proposed legislative changes                                     53
                                    2 Current and proposed duties in Scotland, Wales and England       69
                                    3 List of stakeholders consulted                                   72
                                    4 PRG terms of reference and membership                            74
                                    5 Relevant HARSAG recommendations                                  76
                                  Acknowledgements                                                     78

Author: Beth Reid
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
4           Preventing homelessness in Scotland   Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                           5

                                                  Foreword – Professor Suzanne                            identify any issues at an early stage, to act where
                                                  Fitzpatrick, chair of the Prevention                    a problem is identified, and work together, to
                                                                                                          prevent homelessness wherever possible.
                                                  Review Group
                                                  Scotland is rightly proud of having some of the         The report contains a range of recommendations,
                                                  best homelessness legislation in the world. Yet too     putting collective action at the forefront of
                                                  many people experience the trauma and indignity         assistance, and the experience of people facing
                                                  of homelessness and the disruption that can be          homelessness at the centre of the process.
                                                  associated with spending lengthy periods of time        Together these form a coherent package of
                                                  in temporary accommodation.                             measures which hold the potential to protect
                                                                                                          people from homelessness.
                                                  Beginning in late 2019, the Prevention Review
                                                  Group has taken forward the work carried out by         Scotland has laid down some of strongest
                                                  the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action              protections anywhere in the world for people
                                                  Group and the subsequent Scottish Government            facing a homelessness crisis. The work in this
                                                  / COSLA Ending Homelessness Together Action             report sets out the next step, to prevent people
                                                  Plan, to recommend new legal duties on local            having to face these crises in the first place.
                                                  authorities and other public bodies to prevent          We need this twin-pronged approach if we are
                                                  homelessness.                                           to move closer to our shared goal of ending
                                                                                                          homelessness in Scotland.
                                                  Research shows at least 8% of the Scottish
                                                  population has experienced homelessness – a
                                                  proportion that together we can and must reduce.        Foreword – Lisa Punton,
                                                                                                          Prevention Commission Member

Forewords
                                                  While we have strong protections in place to help
                                                                                                          Having worked in the sector for more than 10
                                                  individuals and families when they are at imminent
                                                                                                          years it was a joy to be able to work on the
                                                  risk of losing their home, we have laid far less
                                                                                                          Prevention Commission and contribute to this
                                                  emphasis to date on effective work to prevent
                                                                                                          report of the Scotland Prevention Review Group.
                                                  homelessness happening in the first place. This
                                                  means it is all too common for someone to reach         Over the years I have become increasingly
                                                  crisis point before they get the help they need.        frustrated with the existing legislative framework.
                                                                                                          In providing such a strong safety net for people
                                                  It was this need to act earlier and prevent people
                                                                                                          experiencing homelessness something of what
                                                  from ever having to experience the trauma of
                                                                                                          we were trying to achieve, which is to prevent
                                                  homelessness, which drove the work of the
                                                                                                          homelessness, was lost. Similarly, the policy
                                                  Prevention Review Group.
                                                                                                          recognition that homelessness is often the failing
                                                  Our work was guided by three principles: that           of all services and public policies, and the role
                                                  there should be a collective responsibility across      of other public bodies in preventing it, is long
                                                  public services to prevent homelessness; that           overdue.
                                                  intervention to prevent homelessness should
                                                                                                          Having lived experience in this process was
                                                  start as soon as possible; and that those at risk
                                                                                                          crucial, whilst we often think we know how good
                                                  of homelessness should have greater choice in
                                                                                                          our systems and processes are, those who have
                                                  where they live and access to the same options as
                                                                                                          experienced them can tell us how they truly
                                                  other members of the public.
                                                                                                          impact on their lives amid crisis and trauma.
                                                  Strongly influenced by the Prevention
                                                                                                          For me this was powerful. It challenged my
                                                  Commission, a group of people with lived and
                                                                                                          thinking in some areas but also affirmed it in
                                                  frontline experience of homelessness, and shaped
                                                                                                          others, which was reassuring as a service provider.
                                                  by expertise from stakeholders across a wide
                                                                                                          If we really want to end homelessness those with
                                                  range of sectors, the recommendations in this
                                                                                                          lived experience must always have a seat at the
                                                  report hold the potential to radically change the
                                                                                                          table. I also met some lovely people and hope to
                                                  face of the homelessness system in Scotland.
                                                                                                          stay in touch with them.
                                                  Central to the report is the need for relevant public
                                                  bodies to ask about people’s housing situations to
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
6          Preventing homelessness in Scotland   Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                        7

                                                 Scotland has historically had some of the             Duties on wider public bodies
                                                 strongest homelessness legislation in the world.
                                                                                                       There should be a shared public responsibility
                                                 But at least 8% of the Scottish population have
                                                                                                       to ensure no one ends up without a roof over
                                                 experienced homelessness. This figure can and
                                                                                                       their head. Effective homelessness prevention
                                                 must be reduced so that as few people as possible
                                                                                                       requires action as early as possible. People
                                                 have to experience the trauma and indignity of
                                                                                                       facing housing difficulties may be involved with
                                                 homelessness.
                                                                                                       various services before they make contact with
                                                 The independent Prevention Review Group (PRG)         housing or homelessness service, providing
                                                 was set up at the request of Scottish Government      potential opportunities to act early. Health and
                                                 to take forward work on preventing homelessness       social care services, children’s services, police
                                                 identified by the independent Homelessness            and prisons may all work with people who are at
                                                 and Rough Sleeping Action Group and the               risk of homelessness, as well as social and private
                                                 subsequent Scottish Government / COSLA Ending         landlords, providing opportunities to identify issues
                                                 Homelessness Together Action Plan published in        early and intervene.
                                                 2018. The Group’s task was to identify legal duties
                                                                                                       Public bodies should:
                                                 on local authorities and other public bodies to
                                                 prevent homelessness.                                 •	Ask about people’s housing situations to identify
                                                                                                          any issues at an early stage
                                                 The Group was chaired by Prof Suzanne

Executive summary
                                                 Fitzpatrick of Heriot-Watt University and included    •	Act where a problem is identified, so that
                                                 local authority bodies and representatives from          people get the right support to prevent
                                                 the housing and homelessness sectors and                 homelessness. This might be by acting within
                                                 from health and social care. A wide-ranging              their own powers or referring on to more
                                                 consultation process was carried out, involving          appropriate help
                                                 around 100 organisations from different sectors.
                                                                                                       •	Work together so that no one leaves an
                                                 The Group was supported by the Prevention                institution such as prison or hospital without
                                                 Commission, a group of people with lived and             somewhere to sleep that night
                                                 frontline experience of homelessness, who met
                                                 regularly during the lifetime of the PRG to discuss   Specific recommendations are made for relevant
                                                 and shape the proposals. They emphasised the          public bodies and for social and private landlords
                                                 importance of choice and control for people           based on these principles.
                                                 facing homelessness, and of services working in       Notably, the Group have made recommendations
                                                 partnership with them to find out what assistance     in these priority areas:
                                                 they need to address their situation.
                                                                                                       •	Health and social care partnerships should
                                                 The Group’s foundational principles were that            co-operate with the local authority to plan
                                                 •	There should be a collective responsibility           for the needs of applicants for homelessness
                                                    across public services to prevent homelessness        assistance who may have health and social care
                                                                                                          needs
                                                 •	Intervention to prevent homelessness should
                                                    start as early as possible                         •	Where people needing homelessness
                                                                                                          assistance have complex needs requiring input
                                                 •	People facing homelessness should have an             from multiple services, a case co-ordination
                                                    appropriate degree of choice in where they            approach should be put into place
                                                    live and access to the same accommodation
                                                    options as other members of the public, with       •	16 and 17 year olds who are at risk of
                                                    protections in place to prevent them from             homelessness should be assisted by children’s
                                                    becoming homeless again.                              services rather than adult services
                                                                                                       •	Recommendations in relation to support for
                                                                                                          victims of domestic abuse include:
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
8                                                                        Preventing homelessness in Scotland     Preventing homelessness in Scotland   9

    o	Support and security measures to remain          place to so that the accommodation secured to
       safely in their own home where this is their     resolve their housing problems is both settled and
       preference                                       suitable for their specific needs.
    o	Access to free legal aid to get an exclusion     The recommendations of the Group seek to
       order to prevent them losing their home, if      achieve the following:
       this is appropriate for them
                                                        1)	Clarify, strengthen and extend a duty to prevent
    o	Social landlords should put in place                 homelessness, and integrate it within the main
       protocols to address housing issues relating         statutory framework, so that local authorities
       to domestic abuse                                    assist anyone threatened with homelessness in
                                                            the next six months.
Requirements for effective strategic planning
by all the relevant services, including the local       2)	Prescribe a range of reasonable steps to be
authority, health and social care partnerships and          used to prevent or alleviate homelessness,
other community planning partners will help join            based on the existing Housing Options
up services and provide a coherent approach                 framework. These steps are to be included in
to homelessness prevention. The National                    a personalised and tailored housing plan that
Performance Framework should have an emphasis               enhances applicants’ choice and control. Where
on enabling people to live successfully in their            applicants have housing support needs these
housing to minimise homelessness.                           should be assessed and met.
                                                        3)	Ensure the service meets the needs of specific
Reforming the homelessness legislation                      groups at risk of homelessness by working with
Local authorities have expressed concern about              other services and partners, including for those
how to do effective homelessness prevention                 experiencing domestic abuse, and those leaving
within the current statutory framework, particularly        prison, care and other institutions, those facing
after the critical 2014 Housing Options report from         a threat of homelessness living in the private
the Scottish Housing Regulator. Recently in Wales,          rented sector.
and subsequently in England, new legislation has

                                                                                                                 Introduction
                                                        4)	Ensure people requiring assistance to prevent
been developed to strengthen the homelessness
                                                            or alleviate homelessness are assisted into
framework in those nations so that there is much
                                                            accommodation which is available for a
more emphasis on helping people at an early
                                                            minimum of 12 months and suitable to their
stage, so that they don’t lose their homes at all, or
                                                            needs, with appropriate safeguards to ensure
are rehoused rapidly without having to have the
                                                            that homelessness does not reoccur. This
lived experience of homelessness.
                                                            would allow a wide range of accommodation
The PRG have developed a comprehensive set                  options, allowing people choice and control
of proposals which, if enacted, would transform             insofar as possible.
the homelessness system to focus on helping
                                                        5)	Provide clarity and accountability in the system,
individuals as early as possible so that as few
                                                            giving people appropriate and effective rights of
people as possible lose their homes and face the
                                                            reviews and challenge throughout the process.
trauma and indignity of homelessness, and avoid
                                                            There should be a comprehensive right to
the disruption of having to move into temporary
                                                            request a review of decisions at all stages of the
accommodation. The homelessness system
                                                            process. Where the applicant is still not content
should become the last resort safety net it was
                                                            with the outcome, they should have a right to
intended to be, with most people helped well
                                                            challenge decisions through the Housing and
before they reach that acute crisis stage.
                                                            Property Tribunal.
Such a system would be based on partnerships
                                                        A full list of recommendations is included at the
at operational and strategic level, with prevention
                                                        end of the main report. Draft legislative clauses are
work starting from six months away from losing
                                                        included at appendix 1 which set out the Group’s
accommodation, giving applicants greater choice
                                                        intention in detail.
and control, while having strong protections in
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
10                                                                                            Preventing homelessness in Scotland         Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                                                           11

Background to the Group                                               The initial action plan on ending homelessness                         “the working group will develop                                        Policy and legislative context
                                                                      published jointly by Scottish Government                               recommendation to the Scottish Government
Homelessness has rightly gained increasing
                                                                      and COSLA in response to HARSAG’s                                      for a legal duty or duties on Scottish local                           Homelessness prevention across Great
focus in recent years. In autumn 2017 First
                                                                      recommendations3 stated:                                               authorities and wider public bodies to
Minister Nicola Sturgeon commissioned the
                                                                                                                                             prevent homelessness. The Group will
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Britain
Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action                                    We will work with public bodies, housing                                                                                                  The Group began its work by examining the
                                                                                                                                             also provide advice on how to ensure
Group (HARSAG) to identify recommendations                                providers and other partners to develop                                                                                                   current situation in Wales4 and in England5
                                                                                                                                             the recommendations are successfully
to tackle rough sleeping, reduce the use of                               a new duty on local authorities, wider                                                                                                    following the implementation of their new
                                                                                                                                             implemented in the context of wider reforms
temporary accommodation and, ultimately, to end                           public bodies and delivery partners for the                                                                                               legislation. Alongside HARSAG, both Shelter
                                                                                                                                             to homelessness provision in Scotland”.
homelessness in Scotland. HARSAG, as it became                            prevention of homelessness…                                                                                                               Scotland and Crisis have made recommendations
known, published its final set of recommendations                                                                                         The Group has been specifically tasked to address                         in recent years to consider a similar approach
in June 2018.                                                             We will ensure local authorities, housing                       legal duties to prevent homelessness. Effective                           to the Welsh prevention duty in Scotland6. Calls
                                                                          providers and public bodies work together                       legal duties can create enforceable protections
They noted that “The culture we are proposing                                                                                                                                                                       for action to involve wider public bodies in
                                                                          to prevent homelessness and rough                               for individuals, drive the allocation of resources,
places the homeless person or household at                                                                                                                                                                          homelessness prevention go even further back7.
                                                                          sleeping at every opportunity. As part of the                   set expectations, shape incentive structures, and
the centre and ensures that all professionals                             development of the prevention duty…, we                                                                                                   The intention was to draw on the best of those
                                                                                                                                          propel positive cultural change. On the other
are working together in the interests of that                             will work with expert practitioners, public                                                                                               new statutory processes to improve prevention
                                                                                                                                          hand, where legal duties are unclear they can
person not becoming homeless or having their                              bodies and housing providers to develop                                                                                                   work for people at risk of homelessness, whilst
                                                                                                                                          create barriers to effective practice.
homelessness resolved quickly and sustainably                             the ways in which they can support those                                                                                                  building on the vital strengths of the existing
if they do become homeless”1. Prevention of                               they come into contact with at an early                                                                                                   Scottish system. The Group is clear that, while
homelessness was a strong and recurring theme                             stage to prevent them becoming at risk of                                                                                                 there are lessons to learn from these provisions,
throughout their work, in recognition of the                              homelessness…                                                   Structure of report                                                       they operate in a very different context, with
importance of stemming the flow of people                                                                                                 Below we discuss the current policy and legislative                       the continued use of the priority need test, and
into homelessness in the first place. Relevant                            Our work to develop a new wide-ranging                          context for homelessness prevention in Scotland,                          particularly in parts of England, extreme pressures
recommendations are set out in Appendix 3 and                             prevention duty will help drive better join up                  England and Wales, and look briefly at the                                on the housing market, and the provisions do not
include the following:                                                    in planning, resourcing and delivery. (p23,                     statutory role of other public bodies. We go on to                        fully reflect the intent of the Group. For instance,
                                                                          p37, p39)                                                       set out how we approached the work, including
     Legislate for a new prevention duty that                                                                                                                                                                       it is clear that the duties in Wales and England on
                                                                                                                                          our foundational principles.                                              wider public bodies to co-operate and to refer to
     brings the “Housing Options” approach into
     the heart of the statutory homelessness                                                                                              The main body of this report is structured into                           local authority homelessness services respectively
                                                                      The task                                                                                                                                      need to be strengthened to make them more
     framework – so that outcome-orientated                                                                                               two parts. The first addresses the role of public
     preventative practice can be better regulated,                   The Scottish Government asked Crisis to convene                     bodies and landlords outwith the homelessness                             effective. A table comparing the current duties in
     and also encouraged, as local authorities                        an independent group of experts chaired by                          framework to ensure that opportunities are taken                          Wales, England and Scotland, and the proposed
     engaging in good preventative work will                          Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot-Watt                        to prevent homelessness before this reaches crisis                        duties for Scotland are included at Appendix 2.
     no longer be exposed to legal challenge.                         University in order to develop legislative proposals                point, and makes proposals for legal requirements
     Extend robust preventative duties to other                       to prevent homelessness. Group members were                         to act so that as few people as possible find                             Rates of homelessness across the three nations
     public bodies, Housing Associations and                          identified jointly by the chair, Scottish Government                themselves without somewhere to live. The                                 Scotland consistently has a much higher rate of
     other organisations commissioned by                              and Crisis. The Group membership is listed at                       second part focuses on reforming the current                              homelessness acceptances compared to England
     public bodies to deliver homelessness and                        Appendix 4. The secretariat was provided by Crisis                  statutory framework on homelessness to give                               and Wales, as shown in the diagram below8.
     associated services2.                                            staff.                                                              greater priority to preventing homelessness.                              Around 11 in 1000 Scottish households each year,
Specific reference was made to examining the                          Following on from the recommendation made
recent experiences of changes to homelessness                         by HARSAG, and the action in the joint Scottish
legislation in both England and Wales, which                          Government and COSLA Ending Homelessness
now place a strong emphasis on preventing                             Together High Level Action Plan, the Group set out
homelessness.                                                         the task as follows:                                                4	Mackie, P., Fitzpatrick, S., Stirling, T., Johnsen, S., and Hoffman, S. (2012) Options for an Improved Homelessness Legislative Framework in
                                                                                                                                             Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government; Fitzpatrick, S. et al (2017) Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2017. Crisis; Ahmed, A, Wilding, M, Gibbons, A,
                                                                                                                                             Jones, K, Rogers, M, Madoc-Jones, I (2018) Post-implementation evaluation of Part 2 of the Housing Act (Wales) 2014: Final report
                                                                                                                                          5	Crisis (2015) The homelessness legislation: an independent review of the legal duties owed to homeless people. London: Crisis;
                                                                                                                                             Fitzpatrick et al (2019) Homelessness Monitor England 2019; Crisis (2019) Crisis evidence to the Communities and Local Government
                                                                                                                                             Select Committee inquiry: One year on since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act https://old.parliament.uk/documents/
                                                                                                                                             commons-committees/communities-and-local-government/Crisis-written-evidence-HRA-one-year-on.pdf
1	HARSAG (2018) Ending Homelessness The report on the final recommendations of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group,         6	Shelter Scotland (2016) Homelessness: Far from fixed – Why Scotland needs a national homelessness strategy; Crisis (2018) Everyone In
   p2 https://www.gov.scot/groups/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-action-group/                                                              How to end homelessness in Great Britain
2	HARSAG (2018) Transforming the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland: an interim report on the activity of the Homelessness and   7	Shelter Scotland (2013) People not process: An action plan for the delivery of Scotland’s homelessness commitment
   Rough Sleeping Action Group, Recommendation 2                                                                                          8	Fitzpatrick and Bramley: Homelessness and Complex Needs: Comparing Policies and Outcomes Across Great Britain. Powerpoint
3    Scottish Government / COSLA (2018) Ending homelessness together high level action plan                                                  presentation
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
12                                                                                           Preventing homelessness in Scotland           Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                                                             13

or one in every 90, are accepted as requiring                          of people making homeless applications. The                         obtained from Freedom of Information requests                                with homelessness. Of the prevention cases
homelessness assistance from their local authority.                    Scottish Government infers from this “that in its                   in 2018 put the bill for temporary accommodation                             that were closed in the last year, 58% secured
Some of this difference between nations relates                        current form, the impact of housing options work                    at £660m over five years12. In human terms, at its                           accommodation for six months or more and so
to different levels of entitlement and support                         is unlikely to lead to further large reductions in                  worst, temporary accommodation can lead to                                   had their homelessness prevented. Some of this
in each nation and over time, and specifically                         applications beyond those already seen”9.                           a deterioration in people’s physical and mental                              was in their existing accommodation, and some
greater availability of support on becoming                                                                                                wellbeing13.                                                                 moving to other accommodation. 19% of these
homeless in Scotland. Nevertheless, this suggests                      The result of such high rates of homelessness                                                                                                    people became homeless and went on to the
a concerningly high part of the population in                          applications and acceptances is very high use of                    Meanwhile, over the past six years in England and                            homelessness relief duty. This means that the
Scotland become homeless annually.                                     temporary accommodation, with the number of                         Wales, legislation has been created to prevent                               local authority must take reasonable steps to help
                                                                       households in such accommodation consistently                       homelessness by taking steps to intervene as early                           the applicant so that accommodation becomes
Notably, over the last two years there have                            around 11,000 at any one time, around three times                   as possible for people at risk of homelessness. In                           available for six months17. For 9% contact was lost
been decreases in the rate of full homelessness                        the number of twenty years ago10. Most temporary                    these jurisdictions, this is particularly beneficial for                     and 7% had no further action taken18.
acceptances in England and Wales, following the                        accommodation placements are in social housing.                     those households not likely to be entitled to a full
introduction of new prevention legislation there.                      In 2013 Audit Scotland estimated that it cost                       rehousing duty because they are not found to be                              Accommodation to prevent homelessness
This suggests that the legislation has led to the                      councils 75% more to accommodate people in                          in priority need. The legislation is contained within                        was secured in a range of accommodation
resolution of cases that otherwise would have                          temporary accommodation than it would have                          Part 2, Chapter 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 201414                          types, primarily evenly split between the private
ultimately lost their accommodation and had to                         done to house them in a permanent home11,                           and the Homelessness Reduction Act 201715 (HRA)                              and social sector: 42% were housed in social
apply for full homelessness assistance. Meanwhile                      while also reducing the amount of social housing                    for England.                                                                 accommodation and 41% in private rented
Scotland has seen a slight increase in the rate                        available for permanent accommodation. Figures                                                                                                   accommodation. A further 9% stayed with family,
                                                                                                                                           Following the introduction of the 2014 Act,                                  and 1% moved into owner occupation19.
                                                                                                                                           two thirds (62%) of people who approached
Homeless priority need acceptances per 1000 households by country, 1997-2018                                                               homelessness services in Wales in 2016/17 had                                In addition, the evaluations20 of the impact of the
                                                                                                                                           their homelessness prevented, with 77% of this                               new legislation in Wales and England suggest that
                                                                                                                                           group assisted into alternative accommodation. 18                            it has led to a more proactive and person-centred
18.00                                                                                                                                      out of 22 local authorities say they are doing more                          culture, albeit implementation has not been as
                                                                                                                                           prevention work, and that it is more inclusive, and                          consistent or effective as might be desirable, and
16.00                                                                                                                                      13 out of 22 also say it is now more effective16.                            both countries remain inhibited by the continued
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        priority need test, unlike Scotland. England in
14.00                                                                                                                                      Since the introduction of the English                                        particular suffers from chronic housing shortages21
                                                                                                                                           Homelessness Reduction Act, the majority (54%)                               and affordability problems22 that are holding back
12.00                                                                                                                                      of people seeking assistance are threatened

10.00

                                                                                                                                           12	Goodwin, K, Geoghegan, P (2018) Councils paid £660m for temporary homeless accommodation, The Ferret, 17 August 2018
 8.00                                                                                                                                          https://theferret.scot/councils-half-billion-temporary-accommodation/
                                                                                                                                           13	Crisis (2018) I won’t last long in here: Experiences of unsuitable temporary accommodation in Scotland; Watts, B, Littlewood, M,
 6.00                                                                                                                                          Blenkinsopp, J & Jackson, F 2018, Temporary Accommodation in Scotland: Final Report. Social Bite, Edinburgh.
                                                                                                                                           14   http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2014/7/part/2/chapter/2/enacted

 4.00                                                                                                                                      15   http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/13/contents/enacted
                                                                                                                                           16   Fitzpatrick, S. et al (2017) Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2017. Crisis
                                                                                                                                           17	If the applicant in not in priority need, or is intentionally homeless, or if a decision has not been made on these, the relief duty may come to
 2.00
                                                                                                                                               an end after 56 days if the local authority has taken reasonable steps to provide assistance. People will only receive interim accommodation
                                                                                                                                               if they are considered to be in priority need and therefore likely to be eligible for the main housing duty.
 0.00                                                                                                                                      18	MHCLG (2020) Statutory Homelessness Annual Report, 2019-20, England https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/
     1995                     2000                    2005                     2010                     2015                    2020           system/uploads/attachment_data/file/923123/Annual_Statutory_Homelessness_Release_2019-20.pdf and https://assets.publishing.
                                                                                                                                               service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/930561/StatHomeless_202006.ods
                                                                                                                                           19   ibid
                                       England                     Wales                   Scotland                                        20	Ahmed, A, Wilding, M, Gibbons, A, Jones, K, Rogers, M, Madoc-Jones, I (2018) Post-implementation evaluation of Part 2 of the Housing Act
                                                                                                                                               (Wales) 2014: Final report; Shelter Cymru (2016) Reasonable steps: Experiences of homelessness services under the Housing (Wales) Act
                                                                                                                                               2014; Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S., Watts, B. & Wood, J. (2017) The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2017; Fitzpatrick et
From Fitzpatrick and Bramley: Homelessness and Complex Needs: Comparing Policies and Outcomes Across Great Britain                             al (2019) Homelessness Monitor England 2019; Crisis (2019) Crisis evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee
                                                                                                                                               inquiry: One year on since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act
                                                                                                                                           21	Bramley, G (2018) Housing supply requirements across Great Britain for low income households and homeless people. Crisis / National
9    Scottish Government (2018) Homelessness in Scotland 2017/18, p4                                                                           Housing Federation
10	As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers in temporary accommodation have risen significantly, and stand at 14,229 at the end of   22	Analysis of Local Housing Allowance rates in 2019 showed that private sector accommodation was unaffordable in 97% of areas in England,
    September. Scottish Housing Regulator (2020) September monthly COVID dashboard                                                             compared to 82% of areas in Wales and 67% areas in Scotland. Basran J (2019) Cover the Cost: How gaps in Local Housing Allowance are
11   Audit Scotland (2013) Housing in Scotland                                                                                                 impacting homelessness
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
14                                                                                                Preventing homelessness in Scotland             Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                                                            15

the effectiveness of the HRA.                                              However, rights for those threatened with                              failed and its responsibility to secure settled                           At the same time, work on Housing Options
                                                                           homelessness are less clear cut.                                       accommodation arises25.                                                   is primarily being recorded as signposting to
Since the introduction of legislation, there has                                                                                                                                                                            other services (54% of work), rather than a more
been a drop in the number of homelessness                                  Under section 32(2) of the Housing (Scotland) Act                      Around 2010, the Housing Options agenda was                               proactive case management approach. The most
acceptances in each country. In Wales in 2016/17                           1987, if someone is threatened with unintentional                      developed in Scotland to support local authorities                        common outcome of a Housing Options case is a
there was a 59% drop in full homelessness                                  homelessness in the next two months, then the                          to prevent and alleviate homelessness more                                homelessness application, accounting for 21,387
acceptances compared with 2014/15, from 5,070                              authority must take “reasonable steps to ensure                        effectively, particularly in the context of abolishing                    cases, or 50% of outcomes in 2018/1932.
household to 1,611 (the year before the legislation                        that accommodation does not cease to become                            the legal test of priority need. Housing Options
came into effect). In England homelessness                                 available”. The Homelessness Code of Guidance                          has been noted as one of the most significant                             HARSAG noted that “a prevention duty should
acceptances dropped from 50,600 households                                 goes on to state:                                                      developments in homelessness policy in recent                             place responsibility on public bodies and other
in 2017/18 to 30,500 the following year, a fall of                                                                                                years, and has led to a significant reduction in the                      allied organisations to work effectively together to
46%, as the legislation came into effect and more                              The accommodation obtained for a person                            number of people needing to make homelessness                             prevent and relieve homelessness where someone
people had their homelessness prevented.                                       threatened with homelessness need not                              applications26. But a tension emerged between                             is at risk of homelessness… In addition to this,
                                                                               be his or her existing accommodation,                              the non-statutory Housing Options approach                                existing powers should be used to reduce barriers
This suggests that the introduction of prevention                              although in practice this will often be the                        and statutory homelessness framework, whereby                             to people getting the support they need so that
legislation in Scotland could allow a much                                     best option; assuming that it is reasonable                        actions to prevent homelessness were perceived                            people can be helped at the earliest opportunity
greater proportion of people to seek assistance                                for the applicant to continue to occupy it. If                     as “gatekeeping” access to statutory assistance                           and use of temporary accommodation can be
before they become homeless. This could lead                                   the local authority concludes that the loss                        through a homelessness application. This has                              reduced or eliminated… Implicit in many of the
to a reduction in the proportion of the Scottish                               of the applicant’s present accommodation                           been widely highlighted, notably by the Scottish                          recommendations on prevention is the need
population that needs to make an application to                                cannot be avoided, it should consider what                         Housing Regulator in 201427, and more recently                            to continue to build on the strengths of the
their local authority because they have become                                 duties it would have towards him or her if the                     in a consultation to inform the work of HARSAG28,                         Housing Options model, ensuring it is equipped
homeless, often with the resultant long periods in                             person becomes homeless and act quickly                            and work by both Shelter Scotland and Crisis29.                           and resourced to be accessible to all, flexible in
temporary accommodation and with significant                                   to prevent homelessness – and particularly                                                                                                   relation to the needs of people who are homeless
associated financial and human costs. It could                                 rooflessness – actually occurring. In either                       Clarification of guidance in 201630 means a local                         or at risk of homelessness.”33
also support a more proactive and person-centred                               case, local authorities should intervene as                        authority must take a homelessness application
approach amongst local authority homelessness                                  early as possible.                                                 where anyone is threatened with homelessness                              Finally, the statutory definition of homelessness in
services.                                                                                                                                         in the next 56 days. However, in 2019/20, local                           Scotland is – rightly – defined very broadly. Only
                                                                               If it is not possible to prevent the loss of the                   authorities recorded less than 5% of homeless                             a very small proportion of homeless applicants
                                                                               accommodation, the authority must ensure                           applications (1,737 households) being related                             sleep rough immediately before applying as
Homelessness prevention in Scotland                                            that other housing becomes available. Unless                       to a threat of homelessness rather than current                           homeless – 4% in 2019/2034. Many people who are
Scotland rightly has a reputation for having                                   there is a change of circumstances the                             homelessness . For those unintentionally facing                           found to be homeless under the legal definition
strong rights for people who become homeless.                                  household will still be in priority need and                       homelessness, only 1,260 returned to their current                        will not yet have left the accommodation which
The discharge of a local authority’s duty to                                   unintentionally homeless and therefore this                        or previous accommodation, 5% of housing                                  they are about to lose. For instance, a young
someone who is homeless is clear, to secure                                    accommodation should be provided on a                              outcomes31.                                                               person may have been told by their parents
that accommodation becomes available for                                       permanent basis23,24.                                                                                                                        they have to leave by the end of the month, a
occupation.
                                                                           The definition of what steps are reasonable is not
This can be into one of two types of permanent                             explicit in legislation or the guidance, and it is
                                                                                                                                                  25	We refer to the local authority in this report. However, we acknowledge that under the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014
accommodation:                                                             not clear what duration and security of tenure is                          the responsibilities for homelessness under Part IV of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 discussed in this report may be delegated to the
                                                                           sufficient to sustainably resolve the homelessness                         Health and Social Care Partnership. In practice, only a small number of areas have chosen to delegate responsibility for homelessness to
•	A Scottish secure tenancy in the social sector                          risk. The role of applicant choice in accepting                            the health and social care partnership, most notably in Glasgow.
   (or a short Scottish secure tenancy in certain                          preventative measures or choosing to seek a                            26 Fitzpatrick, Pawson, Bramley, Wilcox and Watts (2015) Homelessness Monitor Scotland. Crisis
   circumstances)                                                          new settled option through a homelessness                              27   Scottish Housing Regulator (2014) Housing Options in Scotland: Thematic inquiry

                                                                           application is also not clear. Thus, it is difficult                   28 Indigo House (2018) Scotland’s transition to rapid rehousing: market area analysis, legislative and culture review
•	A private residential tenancy, or in the past,                                                                                                 29	Shelter (2020) Public bodies and homelessness prevention: working towards a prevention duty; Dunn, L (2020) Rapid rehousing Transition
                                                                           for local authorities to know at what point
   an assured tenancy (but not a short assured                                                                                                        Plans: A Scottish overview. Crisis
                                                                           their responsibility to prevent homelessness is
   tenancy)                                                                                                                                       30 Scottish Government / COSLA (2016) Housing Options guidance, p27
                                                                           discharged, or when their reasonable steps have
                                                                                                                                                  31	Scottish Government (2019) Homelessness in Scotland 2018/19. Recording of “threatened with homelessness” applications varies widely
                                                                                                                                                      across Scotland, from over 30% of applicants making an application before becoming homeless in East Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute,
                                                                                                                                                      compared to no applicants being threatened with homelessness in Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde, Orkney or Shetland. In Edinburgh and
                                                                                                                                                      Glasgow respectively, only 15 and 10 households are recorded as making an application prior to becoming homeless (0.5% and 0.2%
23	A homelessness application is not mentioned at this stage of the guidance, but there is a clear expectation that the local authority has a
                                                                                                                                                      of successful applicants). It may be that in recording the statistics local authorities do not clearly distinguish between threatened with
    reasonable belief that there is a threat of homelessness and that this is not intentional, which suggests an investigation has taken place.
                                                                                                                                                      homelessness applications and applications where people are already homeless. But this again suggests a lack of clarity on prevention
    The requirement to take a homelessness application was however clarified in the 2009 and 2016 guidance, see below. If the threat of
                                                                                                                                                      action.
    homelessness is decided to be intentional then the local authority has the responsibility to provide advice and assistance to support
    attempts by the applicant to ensure accommodation does not cease to become available.                                                         32	Scottish Government (2019) Housing Options (PREVENT1) Statistics in Scotland 2018/19
24	Paragraphs 2.15 and 8.43 of the 2019 update of the guidance (Paragraphs 2.15 and 9.42 of the 2005 guidance; Scottish Executive (2005)         33   HARSAG (2018) Transforming the use of temporary accommodation, p5
    Code of Guidance on Homelessness                                                                                                              34 Scottish Government (2020) Homelessness in Scotland 2019/20
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
16                                                                                               Preventing homelessness in Scotland            Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                                                         17

couple have just split up but are still living in the                    reduced. They also noted missed opportunities                          Scotland 2019 suggests that the necessary co-                              Stakeholders represented local authorities, Health
same home, or someone may be living with an                              to address homelessness, such as when social                           operation is not always happening. Only 8 out of                           and Social Care Partnerships, Scottish Government
abuser. In these situations, people will often be                        work notes someone as “not open to service” after                      28 local authorities responding to the research                            and related bodies and third sector organisations
statutorily homeless, but the accommodation                              trying to engage with them and subsequently the                        said that their local Health and Social Care                               from homelessness, housing, domestic abuse,
may be saveable if appropriate steps are taken                           individual loses their home. This can mean that                        Partnership helps them prevent homelessness:                               children and young people’s services, health and
to ensure that it is a safe and appropriate place                        responsibility for tackling homelessness is left to                                                                                               social care and the criminal and community justice
for them to remain living in it. Alternatively, it                       the homelessness (or housing) department alone                              “…it’s a failure of services, whether health or                       sectors. A full list is included at appendix 5.
may be possible to help them smoothly move                               and / or after situations are escalated to crisis                           social work, to pick up the harm that’s been
somewhere else without having to have the lived                          point.                                                                      done to that person at the time…and there’s                           The voices of people with lived and frontline
experience of becoming actually homeless, and                                                                                                        so many different opportunities to pick                               experiences were recognised as particularly
particularly without having to go into temporary                         The duties on housing associations were latterly                            that up, until the person hits the homeless                           important. To that end, Crisis asked Homeless
accommodation.35                                                         supplemented by more enforceable duties,                                    service. At that point in time, what they                             Network Scotland to set up a “Prevention
                                                                         specifically a duty on private and social landlords                         do need is somewhere to stay, but what’s                              Commission” made up of people with such
In summary, a change to the law is required                              to notify the local authority when a landlord takes                         brought them there has been a series of                               experiences. The Commission held a series of
in order to: clarify the place of homelessness                           eviction action, and a separate requirement on                              trauma, and other incidents, that’s had a                             meetings during the course of the Group’s work
prevention in the existing statutory homelessness                        registered social landlords to house homeless                               detrimental effect on their mental health and                         and were instrumental in shaping the Group’s
framework, so that prevention is not perceived as                        applicants referred by the local authority37. Like                          wellbeing...”                                                         thinking and proposals. The Commission’s reports
gatekeeping; clarify what must be done to meet                           England and Wales, Scotland does not have a                                                                                                       are available on the PRG’s webpage45.
the duties; and to bring the law into line with best                     full duty on other public bodies to co-operate in                           (Independent key informant, 2018)
practice. Requiring activity further upstream will                       individual cases to prevent homelessness38.                                                                                                       An advocate specialising in housing law was
                                                                                                                                                Even while services do not formally co-operate                             commissioned by Crisis to draft legal proposals
reduce the numbers of people losing their homes                                                                                                 to assist homeless households, they may end up
needlessly, as well as reducing use of temporary                         In England, a proposal in the original draft of                                                                                                   in order to flesh out and stress test the Group’s
                                                                         the Homelessness Reduction Bill for a duty on                          providing support to people facing homelessness,                           recommendations and ensure that their intention
accommodation with its accompanying high costs                                                                                                  often through crisis support. As well as costs to
relating to finance, pressure on social housing and                      a wide range of public bodies to co-operate                                                                                                       could be translated effectively into law. These
                                                                         was amended during parliamentary process to a                          housing and homelessness services, research                                proposals represent the legal crystallisation of
impact on people’s wellbeing. In addition, many                                                                                                 suggests that the costs of failing to intervene
people with statutory homelessness status may be                         duty to refer. It applies to a wide range of bodies                                                                                               the policy intentions of the Group, particularly in
                                                                         including prisons, Jobcentre Plus, social services,                    to prevent homelessness often accrue to wider                              relation to revising Part II of the Housing (Scotland)
in a situation where their current accommodation                                                                                                public bodies including health and criminal justice
can be saved, or they can move in a planned way                          emergency departments and hospitals and the                                                                                                       1987 Act and the accompanying Statutory
                                                                         regular Armed Forces, requiring these bodies to                        services, particularly through some of the more                            Instrument. These are included in appendix 1.
to a new settled place without requiring temporary                                                                                              intensive and crisis services including A&E, acute
accommodation with all the uncertainty, harm and                         refer anyone at risk of homelessness to refer them
                                                                         to the local authority homelessness service. It                        inpatient admissions, mental health services and
stigma that may bring.                                                                                                                          criminal justice services41,42.                                            Prevention Commission principles
                                                                         does not apply to housing associations or GPs.
                                                                         Research on the implementation of the English                                                                                                     The views of those with lived experience of
Co-operation to address homelessness                                     Act demonstrates the importance of public bodies                                                                                                  homelessness and those on the frontline are
While there is a general duty in the Scottish                            working together, with 65% of service users in the                     Approaching the work                                                       central to our proposals. The Commission
homelessness legislation to co-operate, this is                          case study research39 engaging with at least one                                                                                                  emphasised that they wanted more specific help
                                                                                                                                                The Prevention Review Group (PRG) were
limited to local authorities, housing associations                       other service at the time of attending Housing                                                                                                    at an earlier stage so that they do not become
                                                                                                                                                keen that the Group’s work be transparent.
and social work services36 and is not perceived                          Options. Research in Scotland has uncovered a                                                                                                     homeless and do not have to make decisions in
                                                                                                                                                Papers, briefings and updates were published
as effective or enforceable. Local authority                             similar pattern, with a peak of interactions with                                                                                                 “crisis mode”, but if they do, then there should be
                                                                                                                                                online43, and stakeholders were encouraged to
stakeholders consulted suggested that historically                       health services just before someone makes their                                                                                                   more flexibility in the assistance they receive, so
                                                                                                                                                contribute through a series of themed stakeholder
there has been greater recognition of the wider                          first homelessness application40.                                                                                                                 that the duties are better balanced. Two themes
                                                                                                                                                engagement meetings, submitting written
local authority’s responsibilities in relation to                                                                                                                                                                          in particular emerged from and underpinned
                                                                         Evidence from the Homelessness Monitor                                 responses and through one to one meetings with
homelessness, but more recently this focus has                                                                                                                                                                             all the discussions and work of the Prevention
                                                                                                                                                the secretariat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Commission:
                                                                                                                                                In total, over 100 stakeholders contributed to the
35	This is what we understand by the Scottish Government’s intention that “homelessness is ended” (Scottish Government 2018) Ending                                                                                         Choice and control: inflexible legal duties
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           •	
                                                                                                                                                thinking of the Group over a 12 month period
    Homelessness Together High Level Action Plan ), not that people never meet the statutory definition of homelessness, but that they do not                                                                                often address generic situations and leave
    lose their accommodation.                                                                                                                   between November 2019 and October 202044.
36 Section 38, Housing (Scotland) Act 1987
37   Section 11, Homelessness Etc. (Scotland) Act 2003; Section 5, Housing (Scotland) Act 2001
                                                                                                                                                41   Pleace, N (2015) At what cost: An estimation of the financial cost of single homelessness in the UK. Crisis
38	The range of public bodies likely to be involved in homelessness prevention sit across reserved and devolved powers. While the Scottish
    Government has the powers to create duties affecting some of the key public bodies, they do not have power to direct some government        42 Waugh et al (2018)
    departments, notably DWP and Home Office, and change in these arenas will need to come from Westminster.                                    43 https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/scotland-prevention-review-group/
39	Crisis (2019) Crisis evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry: One year on since the introduction of       44	The initial intention was to publish the Group’s finding in June 2020. However, the work of the Group was halted for four months from
    the Homelessness Reduction Act                                                                                                                  March as a result of the COVID pandemic. It recommenced in June 2020 meeting online.
40 Waugh et al (2018) Health and homelessness in Scotland                                                                                       45 https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/scotland-prevention-review-group/
PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS IN SCOTLAND - Recommendations for legal duties to prevent homelessness: A report from the Prevention Review Group - Crisis
18                                                                                            Preventing homelessness in Scotland               Preventing homelessness in Scotland                                                                                       19

     people with no part to play in finding their own                       protections to mitigate further risk of                             The Prevention Commission stressed that a                               The limits of proposals for statutory
     positive solutions. The problem with the legal                         homelessness. Housing outcomes should                               “culture change [is] required to strike the balance                     duties
     position as it stands is that people have little                       be comparable across the prevention and                             between recognising homelessness legislation as
     choice and control in the process, and those                           homelessness duties.                                                essential, while aiming for it to be used more as                       The task of the Group is specifically to focus on
     in the greatest housing need often have fewest                                                                                             the intended safety net than a default response for                     legal duties. Statutory duties are a necessary tool
     housing options. As far as possible the final                                                                                              too many people”50.                                                     to effect the kind of change needed to strengthen
                                                                        What do we mean by homelessness                                                                                                                 work to prevent people becoming homelessness
     decision maker should be the household facing
     homelessness so that the outcome reflects                          prevention?                                                             Therefore, we also consider that the process of                         in Scotland, and particularly to address the tension
     their priorities and needs.                                        The Group has focused its attentions on                                 having to go through the homelessness system,                           between housing options and the homelessness
                                                                        preventing homelessness for groups at particular                        and especially into temporary accommodation,                            legislation51.
• D
   uties to ask and act: Public bodies should                          risk of homelessness, and for people who are at                         is something that should be avoided as far as
  work with people to identify when they are at                                                                                                 possible for people who are either threatened                           In most cases our recommendations are for
                                                                        risk of losing their home in the near future – a                                                                                                statutory duties in primary legislation. In some
  risk of homelessness, and they should then                            period of months or weeks. This is in line with                         with homelessness or who have statutory
  act on that. For local authorities this should                                                                                                homelessness status but still currently have                            cases, they may be more appropriate for
                                                                        “targeted”, “crisis” and “recovery” prevention                                                                                                  secondary legislation or statutory guidance. The
  mean asking people what the assistance is that                        identified in a recent typology of homelessness                         accommodation. Where loss of accommodation
  they need as part of the assessment process.                                                                                                  can be prevented, this will generally be a more                         statutory measures we have proposed come as a
                                                                        prevention47. We are not looking at prevention                                                                                                  package, which in our view works as a coherent
  For wider public bodies, such as the NHS                              activity further upstream such as awareness work                        humane approach and provide a better outcome
  services or community justice, this would be a                                                                                                for the household.                                                      whole. Implementing some aspects of our
                                                                        in schools or where there is a more universal                                                                                                   proposals and not others may have unintended
  requirement to routinely ask about housing, and                       application, such as welfare or anti-poverty
  then act on that information.                                                                                                                 To minimise disruption and harm for individuals,                        consequences and risks undermining the integrity
                                                                        measures.                                                               and to maximise their dignity, choice and control,                      of the system as we envisage it, particularly with
                                                                        At least 8% of the Scottish population has been                         consideration should be given to what support                           regard to reform of the homelessness legislation.
PRG principles                                                          through the homelessness system48. Going                                can be put in place either to enable them to stay in                    Recommendations related to secondary legislation
Early on in the Group’s work we adopted the                             through the system often requires multiple                              their accommodation where this is appropriate, or                       or statutory guidance are no less important than
following principles, shaped by those of the                            moves, especially where interim accommodation                           to assist them to move to somewhere else which                          recommendations related to primary legislation.
Prevention Commission, and in line with the                             is necessary, which can be disruptive to family                         meets their needs and provides them with stability
                                                                                                                                                so there is no longer a risk of homelessness.                           However, statutory duties are not a sufficient tool
principles of the 2011 Christie Commission46, with                      life, employment and social networks. At its
                                                                                                                                                Wherever possible we should avoid people having                         by themselves. They must be accompanied by:
the intention of seeking the best outcomes for                          worst it can be traumatising and stigmatising.
people at risk of homelessness by preventing their                      Over a quarter of people who have ever been                             to lose accommodation altogether and go into                            •	Effective implementation. This must involve
homelessness:                                                           homeless become homeless again in the future,                           temporary accommodation.                                                   clear national guidance, training and a shift in
                                                                        and the death rate for people who have used                             However, the protection of the duty on the local                           culture amongst services, as well as join up with
•	Responsibility to prevent homelessness should
                                                                        the homelessness system is around twice the                             authority ultimately to secure them a home in the                          relevant ongoing work, including consideration
   be a shared public responsibility and not rely
                                                                        rate of people from the poorest communities in                          event of them having nowhere reasonable to live                            of the timing and phasing of work.
   solely or primarily on the homelessness service.
                                                                        Scotland49.                                                             is critical. The strength of this duty for homeless                     • Appropriate resourcing.
•	Intervention to prevent homelessness should                                                                                                  people is unique to Scotland, and a guarantee
                                                                        The use of housing stock for temporary rather
   start as early as possible. In many cases this                                                                                               that must always underpin any support for people                        •	Monitoring of the operation of the system and
                                                                        than permanent accommodation is inefficient and
   will be before issues have escalated to a point                                                                                              facing the loss of their home.                                             outcomes for individuals through thorough
                                                                        expensive to the public purse. It is not designed
   where homelessness appears imminent.                                                                                                                                                                                    and effective data collection about agreed
                                                                        to facilitate choice, but to offer accommodation                        In this way we intend to build on the existing
                                                                        to someone in crisis, with a requirement on                                                                                                        outcomes, regulation and oversight.
•	People facing homelessness should have                                                                                                       strengths of homelessness rights in Scotland by
   choice in where they live and access to the                          the local authority to make only one offer of                           empowering people to have more control and                              There are a range of ongoing strands of work
   same range of housing outcomes as members                            accommodation, into rented accommodation                                access to assistance when their home becomes                            that complement the work of the Group, notably
   of the general public, with appropriate                              either in the social or private sector.                                 at risk and avoiding homelessness crises as much                        the development of the Housing Options
                                                                                                                                                as possible by building specific protection at an                       Training Toolkit, work on a number of prevention
                                                                                                                                                earlier stage.                                                          pathways in relation to homelessness, and work
46 https://www.gov.scot/publications/commission-future-delivery-public-services/                                                                                                                                        on supporting people with complex needs
47	The full typology is: Universal prevention – preventing or minimising homelessness risks across the population at large; Targeted                                                                                   beyond the homelessness sector. We have joined
    prevention – upstream prevention focussed on high risk groups, such as vulnerable young people, and risky transitions like leaving local
    authority care, prison or mental health in-patient treatment; Crisis prevention – preventing homelessness likely to occur within the next
    few months, usually defined as 56 days in line with current legislation across Great Britain on ‘threatened with homelessness’; Emergency
    prevention – support for those at immediate risk of homelessness, especially sleeping rough. Recovery prevention – prevention of repeat
    homelessness and rough sleeping. Latest figures from Scottish Government show that 15% of homeless applicants make another homeless
    application within five years. Fitzpatrick, S, Mackie, P, Wood, J (2019) Homelessness prevention in the UK: policy briefing
    http://thinkhouse.org.uk/2019/cache0719a.pdf
48 Waugh et al (2018) Health and homelessness in Scotland https://www.gov.scot/publications/health-homelessness-scotland/                       50 All in For Change Prevention Commission meeting 4 and 5 report, April and May 2020
49 Waugh et al (2018) Health and homelessness in Scotland                                                                                       51   Bramley et al. (2019) Hard Edges Scotland: New conversations about severe and multiple disadvantage
20                                                                                                Preventing homelessness in Scotland                 Preventing homelessness in Scotland   21

up discussions on these pieces of work where                                homelessness due to domestic abuse among
possible. Effective integration with this and other                         a particular community or a particular risk of
related work will be crucial to achieve the sea                             homelessness for young people who identify
change envisaged by the Group to prevent people                             as LGBT, and developing appropriate services
losing their homes.                                                         accordingly.
                                                                            Similarly, the reasonable steps and solutions to
Equalities considerations                                                   homelessness will be different for groups with

                                                                                                                                                      PART 1
Equalities issues have been a theme throughout                              different needs. For example, for a lone mother
the work of the Group. It was a repeated theme                              in a rural area whose children are approaching
throughout stakeholder engagement, and some                                 school age, an important factor in the location
stakeholders had a specific focus on aspects of                             of settled accommodation may be the proximity

                                                                                                                                                      Duties on wider
equalities, including Engender and LGBT Youth                               of future job opportunities. A large household
Scotland, Rock Trust and Scottish Women’s Aid.                              facing homelessness may prioritise the right size
Fundamentally homelessness is an equalities issue                           of accommodation to meet their needs, with
which is rooted in poverty52. In addition, many                             location and tenure type. Ensuring that the voice

                                                                                                                                                      public bodies
people experiencing homelessness face other                                 of someone facing homelessness is at the centre
inequalities, including inequalities in health53 and                        of the process to address their situation will
experience of crime54.                                                      support people to get the assistance that meets
                                                                            their specific needs.
There are significant differences in the experiences

                                                                                                                                                      and landlords
of different groups facing homelessness. In
relation to gender, for example, men are much
more likely than women to experience rough
sleeping, to have dependency of drugs and
alcohol, to become homeless from institutions,
and if single, to have repeat experiences of
homelessness. Women make up a significantly
larger proportion of homeless applicants
over the age of 25, are more likely to be lone
parents, are more likely than men to have
support needs related to mental health, and are
disproportionately likely to become homeless as a
result of domestic abuse.
White homeless applicants are more likely to
have support needs than applicants of other
ethnic backgrounds, and more likely to have slept
rough. On the other hand, people from Asian
backgrounds are at greater risk of homelessness as
a result of a violent dispute in the household.
To develop and tailor effective homelessness
prevention services to local need, consideration
must be given to the specific population and
needs of people at risk of homelessness locally,
including how specific characteristics intersect,
such as recognising the high prevalence of

52   Fitzpatrick et al (2019) Homelessness Monitor Scotland 2019
53   Waugh et al (2018 Health and homelessness in Scotland
54	Sanders, B. & Albanese, F. (2016) “It’s no life at all”: Rough sleepers’ experiences of violence and abuse on the streets of England and Wales.
    London: Crisis.
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